Few changes expected on-campus following cannabis legalization

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With cannabis legalization taking effect this week, Brock has made it clear that little will change in terms of its use on campus.

The Cannabis Act will legalize cannabis use and acquisition within a legal framework October 17 all-around Canada. This will take place approximately three years after the government initially announced its intent to legalize and regulate cannabis use.

Brock has launched a new section of its website to provide information about cannabis policy on campus. This section is comprised of four components: a main debrief, frequently asked questions, cannabis in residences, and cannabis and mental health.

The website outlines that smoking or vaping recreational cannabis remains forbidden on campus, including in vehicles, at designated smoking locations and in residences. Students living in residences cannot have cannabis products shipped to them, nor can they grow cannabis plants, have cannabis paraphernalia or make edible cannabis products in their residence spaces.

The Residence Community Standards, which are the guidelines for life in residences that Brock students who apply to live on-campus agree to abide by, will be updated to reflect the new legislation.

For individuals using cannabis for medical purposes, further information can be found by contacting Student Accessibility Services.

Furthermore, the new smoking and vaping policy implemented highlights the use of cannabis by Indigenous persons.

“Brock University acknowledges and understands that some Traditional Aboriginal Ceremonies involve the use of traditional medicines including tobacco, cedar, sage, and sweetgrass. Once the traditional medicines have been ignited to burn, the act of the ceremony falls under applicable legislation. Health, Safety and Wellness requires notification prior to the burning of the medicines to be able to respond and put safety measures and accommodations into place,” the policy states.

Liberal MP Bill Blair, who served as the Toronto police chief from 2005-2015, called cannabis laws at the time a form of social injustice.

“One of the great injustices in this country is the disparity and the disproportionality of the enforcement of these laws and the impact it has on minority communities, Aboriginal communities and those in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods,” said Blair.

As well as explaining restrictions on cannabis, the smoking and vaping policy self-describes its purpose as to “provide protection from environmental (second-hand) smoke and vapour by prohibiting smoking and vaping except in the established outdoor designated smoking areas and to foster health and wellness by restricting the consumption, promotion, advertising and sale of smoking and vaping related products.”

The policy is designed to comply with the Cannabis Act. On its cannabis website, the Government of Canada cites the three main goals of the act as to “keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, keep profits out of the hands of criminals [and to] protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.”

True to the intention of this new policy, Brock’s website has an extensive subsection dedicated to the effects of cannabis on mental health and wellness. It provides information on a variety of health-related concerns ranging from mixing alcohol and cannabis to pregnancy complications.

“At Brock University, we focus on ensuring a teaching and learning environment that supports the success of our students and ensures a healthy work environment for our faculty and staff members,” said university President Gervan Fearon through a Brock press release. “Bringing our current smoking and vaping policy fosters health and wellness by taking into account concerns around second-hand smoke, as well as respecting the fact that many of our students are under the legal age for the use of cannabis-related products or even to purchase tobacco.”

Under the act, providing an underage individual with cannabis or using a youth’s assistance in committing cannabis-related offences are now criminal offences carrying maximum penalties of 14 years of incarceration

Further information about the legal aspects of cannabis use and posession can be found on the Government of Canada’s cannabis website. Provinces and territories will be able to set separate rules for cannabis, and municipalities may also introduce new bylaws locally. Brock aims to adapt to these changes as they occur.

“Brock will continue to monitor the impacts of cannabis legalization and will review policy on an ongoing basis to ensure it reflects best practice,” said Fearon.

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